Headline Recipes Are Served In-House At One London Bookstore

When it comes time to buy a new cookbook, chances are you want to know what kind of recipes are inside before you take it home. Of course, you can look up reviews online or flip through the pages to make your judgement. But one bookstore in London is taking the buying experience to the next level. Books for Cooks actually serves recipes from its books for customers to taste-test.

In 1983, Heidi Lascelles decided to open a bookstore specializing in cookbooks (per Books for Cooks). While her original dream was just to stock her store with as many unique cookbooks as she could find — no matter where they were in the world — she outgrew her original, small space, and opted to move to a larger location. 

After the move, Lascelles had space for a kitchen in her new shop, and she decided that the books' recipes should be tested.

The unique concept draws customers in

Books for Cooks imports cookbooks from all over the world, but its biggest draw isn't the books that customers can take home — it's the food they can taste-test while shopping (per Atlas Obscura). The store invites customers to dine at its test kitchen, where the chef serves samples of recipes found in the store's featured cookbooks.

Annie Bell, author of "The Camping Cookbook" and "Annie Bell's Baking Bible," among others, was the first to test out cooking in the kitchen. The novelty of enjoying a meal inside a bookstore brought a number of faithful customers to the store — some of whom were inspired to work at the shop themselves.

According to the Books for Cooks website, the shop owes its success to the kitchen. The shop is now owned by Rosie Kindersley and her husband Eric Treuille, both of whom worked as store employees prior to Heidi Lascelles' retirement. Treuille now works as the store's chef and serves three-course lunchtime meals each Tuesday through Friday for patrons.

Guests can grab a bite to taste-test recipes

If you plan to stop in to Books for Cooks on your lunch break, you can check out the daily menu on the shop's blackboard or check its Twitter account, where its courses are announced daily. Eric Treuille told Atlas Obscura that he doesn't like to plan ahead — he prefers to surprise guests each day. And, evidently, frequent visitors to the bookshop don't mind. Atlas Obscura reports that it's common to see a line out the door, waiting for food.

A meal costs £7 (around $8.50 USD) and includes a starter course, a main dish, and a dessert (usually cakes) to finish the meal off on a sweet note. For an additional £3 ($3.64 USD), guests can also enjoy a glass of wine along with their meal.

After enjoying the meal, guests can browse the thousands of books available for purchase in the store, ranging from cookbooks to food history to biographies of famous chefs. Books for Cooks is located in London, England and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.